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National Brotherhood Week

This is an archive of prayers written for or relevant to National Brotherhood Week in the United States.

National Brotherhood Week was established in 1934 by the National Conference for Christians & Jews (NCCJ) and dedicated to emphasizing the value of interdependence — and for fostering interracial and interreligious tolerance, mutual respect, and social welfare in a pluralistic and multicultural civil society.

In 1943, during World War Ⅱ, President Roosevelt explained its purpose: “We are fighting for the right of men to live together as members of one family rather than as masters and slaves. We are fighting that the spirit of brotherhood which we prize in this country may be practiced here and by free men everywhere. It is our promise to extend such brotherhood earthwide which gives hope to all the world. The war makes the appeal of Brotherhood Week stronger than ever.”

To join the Brotherhood, one was invited to recite the following pledge written by director, David O. Selznick: “I pledge allegiance to this basic ideal of my country—fair play for all. I pledge myself to keep America free from the disease of hate that destroyed Europe. In good heart, I pledge unto my fellow Americans all the rights and the dignities I desire for myself. And to win support for these principles across the land, I join the American Brotherhood.”

The pledge was disseminated in cinemas via a short film, The American Creed (1946), highlighting the approbations of many of Hollywood’s luminaries:

Originally set for the third week of February, in 1943 during World War Ⅱ, President Franklin Roosevelt called for its celebration for ten days, from February 19th till the 28th. After the war, the “week” was either marked as the third week in February, February 17th through the 24th, or as the period between the birthdays of President Abraham Lincoln (February 12th) and George Washington (February 22nd).

While the spirit of National Brotherhood Week was diminished to the extent that by the mid-1960s it became a popular subject of satire (famously by Tom Lehrer), nevertheless, the civic values it upholds deserve to be maintained and sustained and strengthened, especially in our times when the multicultural civil society upon which our democracy depends is being weakened. —Aharon N. Varady

Click here to contribute a prayer you have written, translated, or transcribed for National Brotherhood Week.

Looking for something else?

For prayers composed for, or relevant to, United Nations Day, visit here.

📄 שֶׁבַע מִצְוֺת בְּנֵי נֹחַ | the 7 Noaḥide Commands, or those prohibitions mandated upon all of humanity according to early Rabbinic sources

Prayer for Human Solidarity, by Rabbi Ḥanan Schlesinger

Prayer for Universal Peace, by Rabbi Hillel Lavery-Yisraëli (2019)

Hashem is Everywhere! — a song by Rabbi Yosef Goldstein (1972)

National Brotherhood Week, by Tom Lehrer (1965)

Prayer at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, by Rabbi Uri Miller (28 August 1963)

[Prayer for] Brotherhood Week, by Rabbi Avraham Samuel Soltes (1951)

💬 Universal Declaration of Human Rights | אַלװעלטלעכע דעקלאַראַציע פֿון מענטשנרעכט | הַכְרָזָה לְכׇל בָּאֵי עוֹלָם בִּדְבַר זְכֻיוֹת הָאָדָם | Deklarasion Universal de Derechos Umanos (1948)

Prayer for the United States after World War Ⅱ, by Rabbi Dudley Weinberg (AMVETS, ca. 1947)

💬 Iwo Jima Memorial Address at Fifth Marine Division Cemetery, by Rabbi Chaplain Roland B. Gittelsohn (21 March 1945)

A Prayer for Peace After War, by Norman Corwin (1945)

An American Covenant of Brotherhood, by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan and Eugene Kohn (1945)

Interdependence, a prayer by Dorothy Canfield Fisher (19 November 1944)

💬 Declaration of Interdependence, by Meyer David, Christian Richard, and Will Durant (1944)

Prayer for Brotherhood, by Stephen Vincent Benét on United Nations Flag Day (14 June 1942)

[Children’s] Prayer for a Youth Service during World War Ⅱ, by Lilian Helen Montagu (11 April 1942)

Man Is Here for the Sake of Others, by Albert Einstein (1930) as excerpted by Rabbi Morrison David Bial

A Prayer for Peace and Goodwill Among the Nations of the Earth, by Rabbi Jonas Kaminkowski (1927)

💬 A New Declaration of Independence, by Emma Goldman (1909)

בּרידער | “Brothers” – Y.L. Peretz’s Sardonic Rejoinder to Friedrich Schiller’s Paean to Universal Enlightenment, An die Freude (Ode to Joy)

The Peace of Pity — three stanzas adapted from “Worship,” a poem by John Greenleaf Whittier (1848)

How Beautiful It Is To See, a hymn on “Brotherly Love” by Penina Moïse (Ḳ.Ḳ. Beth Elohim 1842)

An die Freude | שִׁיר לְשִׂמְחָה | ode to Joy (Shir l’Simḥah), a Hebrew adaptation of the hymn by Friedrich Schiller (ca. late 18th c.)

💬 De Rechten van den Menschen van den Burger | דברי הברית החקים והמשפטים אשר בין אדם לאדם | The Rights of Man and of the Citizen, after the Declaration of the Batavian Republic and the Emancipation of Dutch Jewry (1795/1798)

💬 The Declaration of Independence of the United States of America (1776) | די דעקלאראציע פון אומאָפּהענגיקײט (Yiddish translation 1954) | הצהרת העצמאות של ארצות־הברית (Hebrew translation 1945)

הֲרֵינִי מְקַבֵּל עָלַי | A kavvanah to love your fellow as yourself, before prayer